USA-mazing! How Sunderland student travelled across 50 American states in just 180 days
A Wearside woman is set to regale an audience with tales of how she travelled across 50 American states in just 180 days.
Victoria Birbeck’s trip took in 36,171 miles over a six-month journey, taking 18,915 miles by plane and 17,265 by bus.
She rode on 79 buses, 61 of those were Greyhound buses, while also taking eight planes and one train.
She even started her own blog - Around the States in 180 Days - to record her adventure online as she saw such amazing sights as Niagra Falls, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Rushmore.
Victoria, 22, told the Echo: “A lot of people said I was crazy when I decided to travel all 50 States of America, especially on my own.
“I fell in love with America as a child watching reruns of Friends at my best friend’s house.
“I’ve always wanted to live there and explore all the different cultures around the States, it’s like visiting 50 different countries all in one – it’s the American Dream.
“The idea first popped into my head when I was 18 – to travel to different areas in America at least – but due to personalised circumstances, I unfortunately couldn’t go and instead I went to Northumbria University and studied Journalism.
“I always wanted to be a writer and the more I travelled, the more I realised I wanted to be a travel writer.
“It’s like saying I want to be an Oscar winning actress – it’s a very hard profession to get into where you’re actually making a decent wage.”
Victoria, of Houghton, saved every penny possible for the trip after setting up her own business, Balloons & Beyond, with money from her student loan.
The idea of travelling to all 50 states came to her during her final year of study.
She added: “I booked all my flights and all my hotels before even leaving England and TripAdvisor became my new best friend.
“You’d be surprised how many American hotels have reports of bed bugs.
“I’m not really a ‘roughing it’ sort of girl and since I was doing this journey solo, I decided it would be safer (and cleaner) to stay in low budget hotels and AirBnBs.
“With the exception of Alaska and Hawaii, I travelled predominantly by Greyhound bus which is an experience in itself.
“I was mistaken as a homeless person on more than one occasion as I walked everywhere with my suitcase including in -12oc and 43oc temperatures.”
Victoria is now back at home in Houghton, with mum Ann Strong, 55, and dad Neil Birbeck, 54.
She has now agreed to do a talk on her trip as part of this year’s Houghton Feast celebrations after speaking to Houghton Heritage Society chairman Paul Lanagan.
The presentation will be held at Zazz Theatre, in Newbottle Street, Houghton, at 7pm on Tuesday, October 9, with entry £2.50.
All proceeds from the event will go towards Houghton Heritage Society.
To read more about Victoria’s journey go to https://aroundthestatesin180days.wordpress.com/50-states/